Marriage Matters Monday: Talking Finances with your Spouse

Romance versus Finance

Managing finances as single folks isn’t easy: How much money should I have in an emergency fund, what should I save for retirement, can I afford college for my child/children? After saying I Do and adding another person to the equation, the process seems even more daunting. Here to help us figure it out is Marsha Horton Barnes, a seasoned Charlotte, NC-based certified financial education instructor. I discovered Marsha via Instagram. Her approach to financial education isn’t preachy plus she’s a dedicated wife and mother who understands certain things in life money just can’t buy. Check out her exclusive Q&A with Triple B covering the importance of sharing credit reports before jumping the broom, why involving in-laws into money matters should be avoided, why creating a will is necessary and more! – How important is it for engaged couples to exchange credit reports?
Marsha Horton Barnes – Discussing credit may not be the most romantic topic for a newly engaged couple, but it should be on the “To Do” list before the “I Do’s.” Credit reports display current/past financial good or bad habits. Understanding your honey’s credit report will help you to better understand what you are marrying into “financially.” Discuss your debts as a team and determine how you will handle them. Being candid with credit reports allows engaged couples to tackle any unnecessary debt which could ultimately place them in a better financial standing for future goals.

BBB – Most engaged couples want the most bang for their bridal buck — whether their wedding budget is $1,500 or $150,000. How should they prioritize?
Marsha – My hope is that whether you are newly engaged, newly married, or a seasoned couple — you place your focus on lifelong priorities as opposed to the wedding day. Prioritize your budget by what’s most important to the financial success of your lives together. Determine how to pay down debt, analyze how much income it takes to keep your household running like a machine, be honest about the lifestyle you would like to live as a couple (i.e. vacations, owning a home, etc.).

Marsha Horton Barnes - Founder of Financial Empowerment

BBB – Share your top three tips for nearlyweds and newlyweds on best practices for household budgeting.
Marsha – 1) Place money on the agenda and make discussing it a priority. 2) Examine debt and ongoing purchases, be careful with purchasing big ticket items as a newly married couple. Remain cognizant of your total monthly income and your monthly expenses. 3) Set aside an emergency fund very quickly. How awesome and wise would it be to squirrel away 50% of your monetary wedding gifts away into a rescue fund?

BBB – What is your opinion on couples involving in-laws in money matters?
Marsha – This is an easy one. Don’t do it. Vows are shared and unions are created by two individuals. Be willing to keep it that way. However—there’s always a however right? — as you consider wills and estate planning, include your immediate family members that you entrust to handle your affairs in the case that you or your spouse are unable to do so.

BBB – Add any additional helpful financial information for newly married or engaged couples that you didn’t touch on above.
Marsha – Commit and communicate. Get organized together, set goals together, undo debt together, and protect what matters most. Approach and attack your fiancé’s or spouse’s past financial mistakes as a team and without judgment. If possible, live on one salary and save the other. Enjoy love and living.

Get more great tips on money management from Marsha here!

What was your biggest takeaway from Marsha’s above advice?


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  1. Avatar K. Johnson says:

    I’m doing the slow clap right about now! It is about time we as young Black people promote this kind of information instead of constantly talking about red bottoms and ice. This was a great interview. Thank you bbb!

  2. I like Marsha’s approach! I’m going to start following her on IG right now. The part about living on 1 salary and saving the other is the truth! That is what most Jewish people do and it seems to work for them.

  3. Avatar SpikesDtr says:

    Sage and cogent advice, thanks Triple B!

  4. This site continues to provide useful, yet entertaining, information. Thank you and please continue.

  5. Avatar Aunt Zee says:

    Ditto to all comments above! Figuring out your finances in advance will save so many tears later. Keep up the positive & informative work BBB.

  6. Bridgette Bridgette says:

    Keep the honest feedback coming, folks! I’m glad the content resonated with you all.

    @Paula – I too have heard the connection btn people of Jewish descent and living on one salary…Still not sure if it is true but it is a smart money move nonetheless.

  7. Love this post especially the advice of living on one salary, you don’t have to be Jewish to do this.

  8. If you can live on on salary, that is awesome…I’m all about saving and budgeting…

  9. Marsha, this is timely and wise advice!!! I LOVE the idea of living off of one income. I think that is even a great idea for singles and thinking of ways to live solely on ONE check and bank the other. I consider that healthy and juicy living. Great, great, great interview!!

  10. Avatar SpikesDtr says:

    K. Johnson I wholly agree with your assessment of our focus on stuff. I feel it highlights our dissatifaction of self therefore we need accoutrements to portray worth. I could be totally wrong but IJS.

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